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Page last updated at 15:52 GMT, Saturday, 11 April 2009 16:52 UK

Rangers 3-1 Motherwell

By Clive Lindsay

Kris Boyd celebrates scoring Rangers' second goal
Boyd was a constant threat to the Motherwell defence at Ibrox

Kris Boyd grabbed a double as Rangers moved to within a point of Scottish Premier League leaders Celtic with a convincing win over Motherwell.

Andrius Velicka forced the ball home after two minutes to give an injury-hit Rangers a dream start at Ibrox.

Boyd powered home a superb long-range drive eight minutes later, but John Sutton matched that before the break.

However, Boyd made the points safe after the break from the penalty spot after Pedro Mendes was brought down.

Defeat was a blow to Motherwell's hopes of a top-six finish and they could find themselves three points behind with one game left before the league splits into two should Hibernian defeat St Mirren on Monday.

Rangers manager Walter Smith had been forced to name a makeshift line-up with seven players missing through injury and Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor still under a club suspension for their misbehaviour while with Scotland.

Steven Smith, who had been unable to reclaim a place since his recovery from injury and Smith's return to Ibrox, was handed an unfamiliar left midfield role.

Steven Whittaker occupied Smith's usual left-back position in the absence of Sasa Papac, while the veteran Christian Dailly was on the right and Andy Webster came in from the cold to sit on the bench.

Andrius Velicka was given a rare start up front, with Steven Naismith dropping to the bench, and the Lithuanian and Smith made an impact after only two minutes.

Boyd headed on a Smith cross into the six-yard box, Maros Klimpl, back in the Well defence following suspension, could only prod it towards his own goal and Velicka forced the ball over the line.

Andrius Velicka shows his delight at opening the scoring
Velicka made a scoring return to Rangers' starting line-up against Well

Rangers were two ahead eight minutes later when Whittaker found a gap between Motherwell defenders and Boyd sent a superb 22-yard drive into the far corner.

The home side were totally in control, with half-chances falling to Velicka and Boyd.

But Well struck back out of the blue after 37 minutes when Sutton went up for Stevie Hammill's long ball out of the defence and, when the ball fell kindly at the striker's feet, he lashed it home from 25 yards.

As in midweek against St Mirren, Rangers were knocked out of their stride by the opposition pulling back a goal, although Boyd forced goalkeeper Graeme Smith to beat the ball clear with another snap shot from the edge of the box.

The half-time break seemed to settle the Glasgow side and Boyd again tested Smith with a fine volley on the turn from 16 yards that the goalkeeper could only parry clear then fired another effort across the face of goal.

Boyd's second goal was not long in coming, this time via a 65th-minute penalty.

Pedro Mendes went down rather easily under Brian McLean's challenge and goalkeeper Smith was booked for protesting the decision before being sent the wrong way from the spot.

Rangers eased to victory thereafter and went close to extending their lead when Smith turned Whittaker's close-range drive on to the underside of the bar.

Rangers manager Walter Smith :

"It is a trend in recent games that we manage to get ourselves 2-0 up and we have not managed to get the extra goal that would make it comfortable.

"Our performance has dropped down a bit and it is something we will have to watch.

"It's not easy for players to come in when they have not been involved for a while, so I was pleased for Stevie Smith and Andrius Velicka as they were both involved in the first goal.

"And I am pleased that we have been managed to handle three games in six days and come away with nine points."

Motherwell manager Mark McGhee :

"We had warned them after the start Rangers made against St Mirren the other night.

"But they still looked like they were caught in the headlights a little.

"That was hugely disappointing and, although we got a goal back, losing two early on virtually killed the game.

"We have probably got to count on Hibs beating St Mirren on Monday, which means we will have to beat St Mirren next weekend and hope that Rangers thrash Hibs to make up the goal difference."

Rangers : Alexander, Whittaker, Weir, Bougherra, Steven Smith (Naismith 73), Davis, Edu, Dailly, Mendes, Boyd, Velicka (Novo 58).
Subs Not Used: Graeme Smith, Webster, Niguez, Fleck, Wilson.

Booked : Dailly.

Goals : Velicka 2, Boyd 10, 65 pen.

Motherwell : Graeme Smith, McLean, Quinn, Reynolds, Hammell, McGarry (Sheridan 61), Klimpl, Hughes, Clarkson, Sutton (Murphy 71), O'Brien.
Subs Not Used: Krysiak, Malcolm, Darren Smith, Fitzpatrick, Lasley.

Booked : Graeme Smith, Clarkson.

Goals : Sutton 37.

Att : 50,080

Ref : D Somers

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Rangers' Kris Boyd and Motherwell's John Sutton 7.67 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
SPL as it happened
11 Apr 09 |  Scottish Premier
SPL photo gallery
11 Apr 09 |  Scottish Premier

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